Botswana’s High Court has overturned a law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations. Under section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code, same sex relations was an offense that carried a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.
The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who challenged the anti-sodomy laws last year. In a written statement read by the applicant’s lawyers in court, L.M. said, “We are not looking for people to agree with homosexuality but to be tolerant.”
When the case was brought before the court , a lawyer for the government argued that the law should not be overturned because it reflects the values of Botswana’s society, and pressed the challengers to provide evidence that those values had changed. But on Tuesday, three judges voted unanimously to revoke the laws.
Delivering the ruling, Judge Michael Leburu said the laws were “discriminatory” toward gay people and violated Botswana’s Constitution, arguing that overturning them was a matter of protecting human rights.
Botswana joins Angola, Mozambique and Seychelles who have scrapped anti-gay laws in recent years.
The ruling comes weeks after Kenya’s High Court refused to scrap laws criminalising homosexuality.
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